The iMac has plenty of horsepower and lots of screen real estate. The MacBook Pro has a screen to die for. The new Mac Pro represents Apple’s latest in cutting edge technology. What to do? What to do?
Pricing The Pieces
The reason I narrowed my wish list down to the iMac and Mac Pro has more to do with how satisfied I am with my slow-to-age MacBook Air. It’s light, fast, starts up quickly, and about all a MacBook Pro would offer is the Retina display.
So, this is the year to price out and trick out a new desktop Mac. What’ll it be? The practical iMac? Or, the less practical but fully drool-worthy Mac Pro?
A fully tricked out iMac represents state-of-the-art in iMac design; 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 32GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 3TB Fusion drive (SSD and hard disk combined), and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M graphics card.
The total price tag falls in just under $3,300, whereas the Mac Pro starts life at $2,999. A fully tricked out Mac Pro with 12-cores, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage and the best graphic card options is a dollar less than $9,600.
And that’s without a display. Apple’s own Thunderbolt display weighs in at $999 and there’s an option for a Sharp 32-inch 4k Ultra HD display for $3,595. The grand total would hit $13,194. Is a Mac Pro worth that kind of coin?
All I’ll be doing that requires that kind of horsepower, besides drooling and showing off to friends and neighbors, is some Final Cut Pro X video production, and some Logic Pro X audio recording and mixing.
Is the latest and greatest from Apple worth a $10,000 differential? The answer is a qualified ‘it depends.’
It Always Depends
Jonathan at TLD has a video which shows the Mac Pro is slower on certain tasks than an iMac.
A close friend in the graphic design business has a new Mac Pro, six cores, 500GB SSD, 32GB of RAM and insists that it is slower on some tasks than his aging quad-core Mac Pro from four years ago.
What’s going on?
The new Mac Pro implements Photoshop filters and effects faster, opens large files much faster (SSD vs. HD), but even some Geekbench tests show the iMac faster at some tasks than a new Mac Pro. The key here is whether or not an application can take advantage of the multiple cores and multi-threading capability in a Mac Pro.
If so, the app screams. If not, not so much. On average, a Mac Pro, with certain apps, can outrun a quad-core iMac by 30-percent to 50-percent (see Jonathan’s benchmarks). That said, a six core Mac Pro with Apple’s Thunderbolt display, and comparable RAM and storage, would still come in at $5,398, a 60-percent increase in cost with perhaps a similar increase in overall performance for FCPX, but not necessarily other apps.
With that being the case I would not be able to justify a fully tricked out Mac Pro, but a six core version is not only affordable, but does justice to video and audio production beyond that of fully loaded iMac, yet also brings to the table that elusive drool-worthy factor.